A CHURCH has launched a bid to raise £250,00 to save one of Darlington’s most prominent buildings.

The United Reformed Church in Northgate has had to close because of safety concerns sparked by damage to its roof.

But the congregation is determined to save the landmark building, the spire of which can be seen from across the town.

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The full extent of the problem was discovered in a survey, carried out in February, and church leaders have been working since to try and come up with a solution.

Andrew Randle, chairman of the church managers, said: “At the beginning of the year it seemed like there were more and more problems appearing but as we’ve gone through the year we’ve managed to get links and plan for the future and we’re really optimistic that we’re going to get it done. I’m determined to get it done.”

The church, which has almost 100 members, closed for lockdown last year and a decision was made not to reopen it due to health and safety concerns. Leaking lead gullies have resulted in damage to beams in the roof, which is expected to cost in the region of £160,000.

The church is hoping to carry out further work to replace the slates on the roof, weather-proof it to prevent future damage and to put in insulation, which would take the total cost to about £250,000.

The church launched an online fundraiser this week and raised more than £1,000 in its first 24 hours.

Leaders are also hoping the church Synod will help with some funding, and it is planning to submit a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund.

And it has been working with other community groups to spread the message about the campaign and to help make sure the building is used by the community in the future.

Mr Randle said: “We see ourselves as part of the push to promote Darlington. We have contacts with lots of local groups and we have come across several who want a reasonable size property for their activities and that’s something we can provide. We see the future as quite rosy providing we can get the building fixed.”

Mr Randle said he hoped public outcry following the demolition of the former Darlington Congregational Bicentenary Memorial Church in Union Street, which was knocked down last year, would encourage people to get behind the campaign to save the Northgate church.

“There was an outcry on social media that it was an iconic building,” he said. “Northgate is in a better position because it’s more visible and you can see it from a few places across the town. When you see pictures of Darlington from the 1920s and 30s our church is there. We don’t want to lose it. It would be nice to think that the people of Darlington will help to save this iconic building.”

To suport, visit www.justgiving.com/campaign/savenorthgatechurch or www.nurc.info

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